REP LIEU STATEMENT ON ENDING U.S. SUPPORT FOR SAUDI-LED MILITARY OPERATION IN YEMEN

February 4, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement after the Biden Administration announced it is ending U.S. support for Saudi-led military operations in Yemen. Since his first term, Rep. Lieu has been one of the leaders of the effort in Congress to end U.S. involvement in the armed conflict in Yemen, which has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians, deepened human suffering in the country, and increased instability in the region.   

“I applaud the Biden Administration’s announcement that it is ending U.S. support for military operations in Yemen. Since 2015, I have called for an end to U.S. involvement in this conflict, which has created and perpetuated one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

"There has never been a military solution to Yemen, and our government’s support to the Saudi-led coalition over the years—including arms sales, refueling, and political support—has made us complicit in this horrific conflict for far too long. The evidence is overwhelming that the Saudi-led coalition committed multiple war crimes in Yemen. While we must ensure that ‘offensive operation’ is appropriately defined and the new policy properly implemented, I welcome the Biden Administration’s early actions to change course in Yemen.

"In addition to ending military support, the U.S. also has a moral responsibility to engage with regional stakeholders to bring the conflict to an end and alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen. I appreciate the Biden Administration’s promise to play an active diplomatic role and look forward to working with them as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to achieve our shared goals.”

An overview of Congressman Lieu’s previous work on Yemen:

In July 2020, the House passed Congressman Lieu’s amendment to the FY21 NDAA that created critical reporting requirements for the administration on Yemen. The amendment was included in the final bill that became law following a presidential veto override on January 1, 2021.

In December 2019, the House passed its final version of the NDAA, which included an amendment from Congressman Lieu modeled after his Yemen Refueling Prohibition Act, which prohibited refueling assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for two years.

In March 2019, Congressmen Lieu and Malinowski led a letter from 13 Members of Congress urging Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to investigate reports that members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are recruiting and deploying child soldiers in the conflict.

In January 2019, Rep. Lieu, Rep. Yoho and Rep. Malinowski introduced the Yemen Refueling Prohibition Act, which would stop the United States from providing the in-flight refueling of Saudi or Saudi-led coalition aircraft conducting missions in Yemen. The legislation comes after years of failures by both the Obama and Trump Administrations to mitigate the U.S.’s role in civilian casualties from coalition-led airstrikes.

In November 2018, Rep. Lieu issued a statement of support for the Senate's efforts to advance a bipartisan resolution to revoke U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

In August 2018, Congressman Lieu sent a letter to the Department of Defense Inspector General calling for an investigation into whether U.S. personnel supporting Saudi and Emeriti coalition operations in Yemen are violating DoD regulations, the Law of Armed Conflict, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, federal statutes or international law. The letter comes after a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus in Yemen last week. Rep. Lieu has long called for more scrutiny into the coalition’s actions in Yemen, questioning the U.S.’s efforts to ensure Saudi and Emeriti forces are actively mitigating civilian casualties and avoiding worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

In July 2018, Congressmen Lieu and Ted Yoho (R-FL) sent a letter to Senate and House Armed Services Committee leaders to express support for a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provision that would establish certification requirements for U.S. assistance to Gulf partners operating in Yemen.

In December 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed the 2018 NDAA, which included two provisions on Yemen that Rep. Lieu authored, into law. Congressman Lieu authored provisions that will bring critical congressional oversight to the conflict in Yemen for the first time. Sec. 1265 requires the Departments of Defense and State to report to Congress on whether the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are abiding by their commitments in Yemen. Sec. 1275 requires the President to submit a detailed report that contains a military and diplomatic strategy for Yemen.

In July 2017, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Lieu’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 that requires the Departments of Defense and State to report to Congress on whether the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners are abiding by their commitments in Yemen to avoid civilian casualties.

In May 2017, Congressmen Lieu and Ted Yoho (R-FL) called on House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce to review the proposed sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. Congressman Lieu also introduced legislation to place conditions on all air-to-ground munitions sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The three conditions relate to avoiding civilian casualties, facilitating humanitarian aid, and targeting U.S.-designated terrorist organizations such as AQAP and ISIS.

In April 2017, Congressman Lieu led a letter with a bipartisan group of 30 Members of Congress to Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson requesting information related to the operational conduct of the Royal Saudi Air Force in Yemen.

In November 2016, Congressman Lieu led the Lantos Human Rights Commission in holding a hearing on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

In August 2016, Congressman Lieu led a bipartisan group of 64 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to postpone the sale of new arms to Saudi Arabia. The letter raised concerns regarding the Saudi-led Coalition’s killing of civilians. Previously, Congressman Lieu had repeatedly raised similar concerns, sending letters to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretaries John Kerry and Ash Carter. He also introduced legislation to establish new guidelines for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

In April 2016, Congressman Lieu introduced a joint resolution in the House (H.J. RES 90) to provide limitations on the transfer of air-to-ground munitions from the United States to Saudi Arabia.

In September 2015, Congressman Lieu sent a letter to General Joseph F. Dunford, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, requesting further information about civilian deaths as a result of Saudi Arabian led coalition airstrikes in Yemen. In the letter, Congressman Lieu requested that the United States cease aiding coalition airstrikes in Yemen until the coalition demonstrates that they will institute proper safeguards to prevent civilian deaths.

In August 2015, Congressman Lieu called for the U.S. to halt its participation in coalition airstrikes in Yemen.

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